Longtime WDAY weatherman was quite a characterThe teacher in the one-room school near Rochert, Minn., came up with a way to get the kids to behave.
By: Bob Lind, INFORUM
The teacher in the one-room school near Rochert, Minn., came up with a way to get the kids to behave. She gave them 15 minutes before classes started to shoot spitballs to get it out of their system.
This perhaps is not a recommended disciplinary approach for teachers today. But in this case, at least some of her students turned out OK.
One of them became Fargo-Moorhead’s famed weather reporter Dewey Bergquist.
Many people have written Neighbors about Dewey and his WDAY-TV show on which he graded the weather (a really nice day won a grade “A,” and you didn’t want to be outside on a day he graded “F”), displayed vegetables with interesting shapes that people sent to him, and pushed his rain gauge, some of which are still in use.
Recently, The Forum has carried stories about the wind chill index and how it has changed.
It’s a discussion you wouldn’t want to bring up around Dewey. He thought the whole wind chill thing was stupid.
Dewey died in 1996 at age 73. But the stories of him and his family abound.
His grandfather, John Bergquist, spoke no English when he came from Sweden and built a cabin in 1871. The building remains a historic landmark in Moorhead. He did well, establishing a brickyard in Dilworth from which many bricks came that were used in Moorhead buildings that still exist.
His son Albert and Albert’s wife, Charlotte “Lottie” Bergquist, had seven children. Dewey was No. 3.
The family first lived in Moorhead, where Albert was employed by Hannaher and O’Neil Wholesale Foods until he was injured when he fell down an elevator shaft and could no longer work. They moved to a farm near Rochert but lost it during the Depression and moved into a tar paper shack.
Albert came down with tuberculosis and died in a Lake Park, Minn., nursing home. The older children were gone by then, but Lottie became a single mom to those still at home.
One of her children, Alice, 8, died tragically when she was hit by a bullet accidentally fired by a neighbor boy who was playing with a rifle.
Lottie and the kids eventually moved to Benson, Minn., so Lottie could take care of her mother.
The youngest of the Bergquists was Leonard, who goes by Willie. He went on to become director of elementary education at Minnesota State University Moorhead.
Willie, 80, lives with his wife, Ruth, at Ponsford, Minn., and is the only one of the seven Bergquist siblings still living.
On to WDAY
One of the older boys, Harry, went to radio school in Minneapolis. Dewey, a recent high school graduate, “just tagged along,” Ruth Bergquist says. “Harry got out of broadcasting, but Dewey was hooked and stayed in school.”
That eventually led to a 30-year-plus career with WDAY, both in radio and TV.
Dewey and his wife, Frances, who died in 1988, had three children: Jim, Battle Lake, Minn.; Paul, Ashland, Wis.; and Carol, Bloomington, Minn.
Scratch the index
Dewey sometimes sent letters to The Forum’s editor. One of them was about something new in the 1950s called the wind chill index.
“I was always looking for something new and exciting, so I began using it on the air,” he wrote.
“After a while, I began to think it was of absolutely no value, and I began to ridicule it as much as I had previously endorsed it.
“Wind chill readings have absolutely no meaning to anybody. The actual temperature is what counts, and anybody who knows when to come in out of the rain also knows it will feel colder if the wind is blowing when the temps begin to drop.”
Dewey also said that he got a laugh one time when someone asked him to mail him a copy of the “windshield ” index.
That sense of humor was standard in the Bergquist family.
Ruth Bergquist says her husband, Willie, once was working on an area trail project and reporters asked the participants why they were doing it.
Others, she said, had big answers about nature and the environment. But Willie said, “My wife made me come.”
Dewey would have given his brother a Grade A for that answer.
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